Chris Powell reckons Joe Gomez is a perfect example to young players as the Catford-raised defender is poised to make his senior England bow.
The former Charlton defender, 20, is expected to make his debut for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions against either Germany at Wembley tonight or Brazil at home on Tuesday.
Gomez was a teen prodigy with the Addicks, who he joined at the age of 10. Even as a first-year scholar he trained with the first-team when Powell was manager of the South London club. He signed professional terms with Charlton and made his debut in the Championship as a 17-year-old before joining Liverpool in June 2015.
Powell has praised the South Londoner for not jumping ship as a youngster. Gomez is good friends with Kasey Palmer, the Lewisham midfielder opting to head out of SE7 to join Chelsea in 2013.
“All the big ones were interested in Joe,” said Powell. “Chelsea and Manchester City – they were all willing to take both of them.
“Joe had just come full-time with us and he stood out a mile with his build and a first-class attitude. You look at how players carry themselves and you could always see he would be a professional, it was just at what level.
“He was highly-regarded by everyone at Charlton. Not many people know, but we were quite close to losing him before he signed pro. Him and Kasey are best of friends and people know Charlton’s network will always attract good players.
“I was manager at the time and spoke to both players and also their parents. Sadly Kasey moved on, but Joe recognised he would be in the first-team earlier by staying at Charlton, and if he carried on playing the way he does that eventually he would get to a big club.
“Joe is a lesson to our top young players. Trust yourself to play at a lower level and it will come when you start playing for a first-team. At top clubs it is a lot harder to break through.
“I’m really pleased for him. He comes from a wonderful family. I’ve always loved Joe. Unfortunately it wasn’t me who gave him his debut – but he was very close to it even at 16.”